Port Augusta’s Solar Thermal Power Proposal Proves Popular

A campaign to replace Port Augusta’s ageing brown coal power stations with base-load solar thermal power has received an overwhelming thumbs up from the local community – and also has support from the company that owns the coal plants.
Port Augusta is home to South Australia’s only coal-fired electricity generation plants – Playford B (240 MW) and Northern power stations (520 MW). Both are fuelled by emissions-intensive brown coal mined at Leigh Creek, 250 km to the north. The two plants are responsible 50% of South Australia’s electricity related emissions.
The end is nigh for both facilities; so the question now is what to replace them with. One alternative would be a gas-fired facility. However, the Repowering Port Augusta report, released in April by Beyond Zero Emissions, says establishing a solar thermal based power generation facility would create 1800 jobs, avoid over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and help address some health problems in the area.
In a vote co-ordinated by community group Repower Port Augusta, 4053 local residents have thrown their support behind solar thermal and just 43 voted for gas.
Giving the proposition even more punch is the fact Alinta Energy, the company that owns the Northern and Playford B coal plants, has said it supported the idea of going solar if the government provided the necessary financial support. 
Port Augusta City Council and Business Port Augusta have weighed in on the issue, also supporting the construction of such a facility.
The Repower Port Augusta team says it will return to Parliament House in Adelaide to further discuss the proposal and the community vote with politicians. A national petition is also available online for people throughout Australia to add their support.
The group is also preparing for Walk for Solar – a 300km walk from Port Augusta to Parliament House in Adelaide starting on the 16th September to raise awareness of the proposal.